The health ministry yesterday said it would give as many Namibians as possible the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while government awaits the arrival of ordered shots.
“The majority of the second doses will be given as soon as the next consignment is received in July,” said the ministry’s executive director, Ben Nangombe, in a statement yesterday.
He said this is in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance, in case of limited vaccine supply.
Nangombe said the country to date received 197 200 doses, of which 135 058 were administered, leaving the country with only 62 142 doses as of Thursday.
So far, Namibia has only inoculated 23 541 people with the full two doses of the available Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.
The Lady Pohamba Private Hospital in Windhoek, who on Thursday ran out of the Sinopharm vaccine, yesterday said it is closing its vaccination centre, as government has run out of doses.
“It should be noted that the first dose of the vaccine already offers some degree of protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Thus, vaccinating as many people as possible with the first dose will lead to the protection of the larger proportion of the population against severe illness,” he added.
Over the last two days, the country recorded 100 deaths and 2 951 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the number of Covid-19 deaths and related deaths to date at 1 445
and 86 649 cumulative confirmed cases.
According to the latest statistics, Namibia’s death rate is higher than that of the US at its worst point in 2020.
By Sunday, the total number of people vaccinated with the first doses stood at 117 668, while those vaccinated with the second doses stood at 23 54.
Despite having free access countrywide, Namibians have been reluctant to take up the vaccinations since the government’s programme started in mid-April.
A survey, released earlier this month, on perceptions of inoculation by Afrobarometer, found that close to two-thirds (63%) of Namibians believe prayer is more effective than a vaccine in preventing Covid-19 infections.
However, Nangombe yesterday said it has been observed that more Namibians now understand and have an appreciation of the importance of vaccination and they are now turning up in numbers at vaccination sites.
“Engagement with public, religious, private entities as well as individuals has been intensified,” Nangombe said.
Nangombe said the ministry is expecting 40 800 doses of AstraZeneca from the Covax facility beginning of next month, 120 000 doses of AstraZeneca from the AstraZeneca Europe mid-July, 150 000 of Sinopharm doses early next month, 100 000 doses of Sputnik light from Gamaleya Institute early next month and 250 000 of Johnson & Johnson doses from AVATT early August.
Furthermore, Nangombe warned those circulating fake news against vaccination, saying such a move is a threat to the country and has contributed to the worsening of the Covid-19 situation in the country.
“In terms of the public and environmental health act and the public health regulations, spreading false information regarding a public health threat is a punishable offence. Those engaging in such an act must,
therefore, face the full penalty of law,” Nangombe said.
He said all Namibians have a duty to report to relevant authorities any person to the Namibian police or the health ministry.
He added that a WhatsApp number will be established for members of the public to report incidents of false information and fake news.
“Those who are campaigning against
the vaccination want the nation to believe that the current increase in the number
of new infections, hospitalisation and deaths
is caused by or is a result of vaccination.
This is simply not true,” Nangombe said.
He said rather the disease has spread because members of the public have failed
to comply with public health measures
put in place to suppress the spread of the pandemic.
Also, he said there is emerging evidence that the rise in cases is due to newer and
more transmissible Covid-19 variants.